Volvo Ocean Race’s Kochi stopover to boost tourism

September 21st, 2008 - 10:16 am ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Sep 21 (IANS) The world’s top yachting race, the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, will make a stopover here, the only Indian port to get the honour. That will not only give a boost to the hospitality industry here but also create more facilities for cruise tourism.The Kerala Tourism Department and the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) will spend a whopping Rs.300 million to make arrangements for the stopover that will take place between Dec 3 and 13.

According to chairman N. Ramachandran of the CPT, the key organiser of the stopover, a major part of the work in progress is the lengthening of the berth for boats/yachts in the Race Village area.

“Though this was a planned project for the expansion of the Cochin Port, it is being taken up at an accelerated pace to meet the demands of the race stopover,” he said.

“The extended berth will be in a position to cater to nearly a dozen yachts. In future, the berth will be used by us to berth cruise ships,” said Ramachandran.

Even at present Kochi gets the maximum number of luxury cruiser visits every year in India, with 42 during the last year.

The stopover is thus advancing the availability of facilities and infrastructure for handling of large vessels for berthing at the port.

Four major international luxury cruisers are landing at Kochi during the stopover period. The cruise vessels are: Legend of the Seas, Celebrity Quest, Seabourne Spirit and Nautica.

“The event will attract 5,000 international tourists from these cruise liners,” said Ramachandran.

The highlight of the event is the setting up of a race village on 2.5 acres at Willingdon Island here.

The Volvo Ocean Race, which is also called the `Everest of Sailing’, is one of the world’s most demanding and daring team sporting events.

This edition will feature around nine teams, 11 ocean legs, seven inshore races and shorter stopovers, and Kochi is the only destination chosen in India.

Kerala tourism is likely to be a big beneficiary as already the organisers have sought close to 1,500 high quality rooms and another 3,500 rooms for the people who would come from various parts of the globe to be with the race teams.

The race starts in Alicante, Spain, Oct 4 and will cover 39,325 nautical miles over nine months and end in July 2009 at St. Petersburg, Russia.

The teams arrive at Kochi from Cape Town Dec 3 and leave for Singapore Dec 13.

The other stopover ports include Singapore, Qingdao, Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway, Gothenborg and Stockholm.

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